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Lightning crash while Stamkos continues slow recovery

Dec 5, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Lightning NHL hockey player Steven Stamkos listens during a news conference in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. Stamkos is walking without crutches or a boot two weeks after breaking his right leg. He met with reporters for the first time since the injury and says he fully expects to play again this season. (AP Photo/The Tampa Tribune, Chris Urso) AP

If Steven Stamkos had to pick one aspect of his recovery from a broken right tibia that’s the toughest, it’s watching the Tampa Bay Lightning fall, knowing he can’t help them.

When he suffered the injury, the Lightning were leading the Atlantic Division, but now they rank fourth and have just a five-point cushion in the battle for a playoff spot.

Although the Lightning have enjoyed the occasional offensive outburst without their top sniper, they haven’t scored a goal in back-to-back games and have been shut out of three of their last five contests.

“If you are not (ticked) or frustrated, something is wrong with you right now,” Marty St. Louis told the Tampa Tribune.

Of course, Stamkos isn’t the only Lightning player sidelined, but there aren’t many forwards as vital to a team’s success as he is. They aren’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins or Chicago Blackhawks, which still look deadly even without a key player.

The Lightning haven’t proven that they’re that kind of team and their recent play only reinforces that. For Tampa Bay, getting back into the playoffs would be a big step forward, but the team’s offense will have to come from different sources for quite a while.

Stamkos is still nowhere near returning and he doesn’t have a timetable, although there have been suggestions that he’s eyeing a Feb. 6 return.

“It’s all about to how fast the bone heals, that part is a bit tricky, but I have to have a goal and I work towards my goal,” he said, according to the Lightning’s website.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay its own set of tasks.

  1. steelers88 - Dec 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    The problem with the Lightning is that they font have a second superstar on ther team. When Crosby goes down with a injury Malkin steps up a visa versa.

    • lightning69 - Dec 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      I guess you don’t count St. Louis as an elite player?

      Problem is Pens have 3rd and 4th liners stepping up. Malkin didn’t have the same swagger without Neal did he? Marty can’t do it all by himself and Stamkos is his normal line mate. Makes a bigger challenge when you are shuffling lines and 1/2 the roster are rookies.

      Still no excuses, “Syracuse South” has to follow Tyler Johnson’s example of effort and find their confidence in the NHL quickly to keep the Lightning from fizzling out.

  2. jcmeyer10 - Dec 5, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Was the headline a Live reference?

  3. boltsfan777 - Dec 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    1. They have raw talent and speed that is very effective when they possess a shoot-first mentality, out skate the opponent, retrieve the puck. (e.g. the last Philly game). Starting with the Pens game last Saturday, which I saw live, they have been gone back to a pass-first mentality and trying to be pretty. There seems to be a collective mental block in this regard.
    2. Defense and goal tending is good enough to win.
    3. I think Stamkos had something like 40% of the team points before his injury, so that’s about a goal per game deficit, which would have made recent games closer.

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